Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Big Lies about Dads

I haven't written in a while and for that I apologize. I have been busy. There is a new book in the works and some other new irons in the fire. But I sure haven't forgotten you dads.
I have been reading the emails and comments I receive here on an almost daily basis. My heart aches for you guys. I recently reconnected with a dear friend from high school who has one of the most excruciating and horrifying stories about the frustrations that dads feel when their fatherhood is not protected.
I can't relate it here because it is too lengthy. But his life was irreversibly damaged by the torture of a very evil woman with whom he had a child, and even more so by a single decision he made that altered his life forever.
People think that men don't hurt. They think we don't cry over our kids. That this life is somehow easier for us. That we don't really care about the time we miss with them. Not really. They think we don't grieve this loss and lay awake at night missing our children. They think we can somehow adapt to this life better than women can. That we are all deadbeats. That visitation and time with your kids and influencing them is of no value to us. They could not be more wrong.
I can't count the number of nights I lay awake crying over the hurt I felt missing my daughter. How many times I would call her just to hear her voice for five minutes. How many times I would watch the VHS tapes of her 3rd birthday party or our trips to the beach together. I would sit in her bedroom at night and close my eyes and feel her there. I poured out my tear-filled prayers from beside her bed, because my heart told me that if she had been, it was there that I'd be praying those prayers anyway. It made me feel more connected to her I guess.
Dads hurt as much or more than moms do. Deadbeats and malcontents get the press and the starring role in movies on Lifetime, but those images are a lie. Like all the other lies told about us.
Be strong dads. The lies become true only if we decide to live up to them.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Missing Your Kids...at Christmas

Hey Dads,
I am sorry it's been so long since I've posted here. So much has been going on. I promise that after the Holidays I will resume my focus on this blog. We need each other, that is obvious by the number of hits this blog gets, especially this time of year.
I am leaving tomorrow to drive home to the Philadelphia area. I am so excited I might not sleep tonight. It's been a year since I've been home, so it's a long overdue trip.
My daughter is coming with me, and I am so happy about that. Morgan gets to go home with me pretty much every year. Her mom doesn't keep Christmas that much. Not like I do. And so Morgan prefers to come with me and stay with her mom at Thanksgiving.
I am a big Christmas guy, and not having her there on the few Christmases where she stayed with her mom was interminable.
I know most of you won't have that same blessing. I know that most of you will awaken Christmas morning to nothing but a longing in your heart and an ache for what is supposed to be. I understand. many of you will see your children on Christmas Eve or Christmas day but not both. Some of you will have neither. Some of you have bought just the right presents, and wrapped them carefully. They sit under your tree waiting for your kids. Your heart sees those kids rushing into the room happily, eagerly awaiting their chance to open those gifts and enjoy family life. Your daddy's heart screams to make this vision a reality. But most of you will have a modified version of this. Some of you haven't seen your kids in a long time.
I wish I had a magic elixir to take away the hurt you all feel, but I don't. I will tell you that the one and only hope is in Jesus Christ. He understands your pain. He has the grace it takes to get through these next few days and weeks. He loves you.
These five years of homelessness and loss have taught me this: That God has a plan. That no matter that may happen, He has not abandoned you. It hurts, it grinds you to your core, it brings you to your knees. But God will use even this if you will bring it to Him.
I will be praying for you. A few of you I have come to know by name, because you've emailed or commented here. But I will pray for all of you who read this blog and come here looking for some sliver of comfort in this back breaking pain we carry this time of year.
Every good dad misses his kids. 263 of you have landed here because of using that word in your search box since Dec. 1 alone. But this time of year, we miss them so much more.
They miss you too, dads. Never, ever forget that.
I love you guys. I am praying for you.
Craig

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Just a smile...

I've been so worried about my daughter lately. I've chronicled it here. Her home life with her mom and the man her mom is married to is deteriorating and she wants to come and live with me. There is a possibility of a career move on the horizon and so this is looking like a probability now. This past weekend, Morgan was with me. I have never been more worried about her than I was on Saturday and Sunday. She was sad in a way I have never seen her be. I was afraid I was losing my daughter. 
Part of her misery -besides her home life- is her desire to leave the school she now attends. So yesterday, in an effort to maybe give her some hope, I picked her up early and took her to the high school here in my neighborhood where she will be attending. School was out already when we got there, but the staff was still there and they let us walk through the building. As God would have it, the art teachers were still in their classrooms. Morgan is a supremely gifted artist as well as a singer. We walked into the art room and she lit up. She met the teachers and they were genuinely excited at the idea of a gifted student like Morgan coming to their school soon. We walked to the music rooms and the theater. I watcher her as we walked through the beautiful building and I got tears in my eyes. My daughter was smiling.
I haven't seen her smile this way since Christmas, and our trip home. She seemed to stand a little taller and her pace was a step quicker. She had hope.
I love my daughter...more than anything. I haven't been able to give her much lately but yesterday she got a shot of hope and it made her smile. Seeing her smile -just a smile- gave me hope as a dad. 
It didn't cost me a dime. It came from knowing my daughter...really knowing her. Knowing what would give her hope and then doing that thing. That's how you love someone. 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

A Daddy's Regret

It's Sunday morning...
I'm sitting at my laptop while my daughter sleeps downstairs. We're staying at a friend's house overnight. Actually I've been staying here for a couple of weeks while I do some work on their bathroom.
Yesterday, Morgan called me asking me to come get her from her mom's house because...for the ______nth time (I stopped counting long ago) the situation is explosive and neither one of them wants to be with the other one.
I don't fault her mom completely. Teenagers are...teenagers. And her mom has stresses on her that are quite a lot to deal with. My situation hasn't helped. I have not had a place to live for four of the past five years. There's no need to repeat my story here...I've told that tale.
(I have recently gotten hired for a decent position and at very least will be able to get a place of my own in about six weeks)
But her mom doesn't really understand how to resolve this problem...and to be honest, she doesn't really know our daughter.
Morgan was as sad and overwhelmed as I have ever seen her yesterday. I've never been truly worried for her like I am right now. I worry about her as any good dad does...but I am worried for her right now.
My daughter is at-risk. And the majority of it is because her mom and I are divorced.
I feared this would happen. I watched for the signs. The year her mom left, I read a book by Judith Wallerstein called "The unexpected legacy of Divorce...a 25 year study"  The book explodes many of the myths of divorce. It was the first study ever to follow a kid from as young as 18 months, until long into adulthood. (Prior studies had selected cases at each developmental level but had never interconnected them)
Perhaps the biggest myth it explodes is that kids "get over" divorce and they are "resilient".  They are not and they do not. In fact the study revealed that the effects of divorce are cumulative. They build up over time. A child processes divorce at 4 years old and then again at 12 and 15 and so on. With each season of life, another layer gets peeled and the divorce rears it's hideous head in another way.
My daughter is facing a whole new set of layers right now.
She is a beautiful, beautiful girl who doesn't need beauty to feel good about herself. I'm thankful for that but it can create awkwardness. She is a strong personality and her mom interprets that as "rebellion". She is anything but a rebel. I am a strong personality as well, but confident enough to let my daughter have her own personality too. And when we disagree we discuss it like adults. I don't back down...but she understands why I take whatever stand I do and that removes the friction. Her mom doesn't have that sort of makeup.
Morgan needs to be with me now and that is going to take a little time. But I don't know that I have that kind of time. I'm worried. I'm scared, to be honest. And I have regrets.
I regret that her mom chose divorce. I never wanted it and fought it as much as humanly possible. But you can't stop a freight train. We live in a no-fault society and a divorce is simply a matter of course now.
Her mom remarried and has another child. I remained single. But I am starting to regret that. Because maybe Morgan needed to see a healthy family modeled for her. Her mom ummm..."chose poorly" in this area. (I shall refrain from speaking my mind here) There isn't much health there. Morgan sees only bad. She was only 18 months when her mom divorced me so she barely remembers us together at all.  Maybe if I had remarried someone who truly loved Morgan and who truly loved me and Morgan saw this...maybe she would be happy today instead of so brokenhearted.
I lived in dread -from the day we walked out of the courtroom- that Morgan would become a statistic. A girl who distrusts love so much that she'll never let herself fall. And I fear it might be happening.
I ask myself  "Where is God in all this?" and to be very honest...I am out of answers for that. I just don't know. I don't care if He comes to my rescue...but come to my daughters!
I know I get a lot of readers on this blog. A LOT. I don't know how many of you men who read this are in the process of divorce and have the option of stopping it and making a go of the marriage. But I beg you...I never had that option, but if I did I would have endured hell for my daughter's sake. If you can...DO IT!
Your personal "happiness" is secondary to the happiness and health of your child. Because you're the dad.
And if you have already divorced or if you can't stop your wife from divorcing...let yourself love again someday. Don't rush into something...that would be an even bigger error. But work on your healing, get your heart well...and let love find you. Make sure it's someone whose heart is big enough for your children. Show them that love can be bent and misshapen but it never breaks. I wish I had. I regret that I haven't

Sunday, July 7, 2013

CraigDaliessio.com

Hey gang...I have a new site up and running.
It's www.craigdaliessio.com  There you can find out more about my writing and speaking. Eventually There'll be more than just the blogs available and you'll enjoy the way the site feels. Thanks!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

My BEST Father's Day ever...

So...my best Father's Day ever is a tie between the very first one in June 1998 when I took Morgan to church that Sunday at Oak Hill Assembly. It felt really cool to be one of the guys standing when Pastor Steve Allen recognized the dads. But the Father's Day that told me I was doing it right was actually the Friday before Father's Day in 2001. Morgan was 3. The daycare she went to did a "Donut with Dad" on the Friday before Father's Day each year. This would be my first one because the previous two years she wasn't in daycare. They gave us a coffee mug and a picture and the one gift I treasured and still have to this day...it's a laminated survey sheet. They asked the kids some questions and the teachers would write down the answers...no matter how silly, or unusual: Here is Morgan's Q and A for Father's day 2001:

My dad is ______ year old. Her answer…7.

(This is old when you are four!)

My dad is _______ feet tall. Her answer…10

My dad weighs about _________ pounds. 446

My dad likes to watch____. Race cars and News

I like it when my dad________. Chops food

(I am a gourmet cook and Morgan has always

been fascinated to watch me working in the

Kitchen)


My daddy always tells me_____ He loves me.

It was this last question that made me cry right there in the daycare. Of all the things that popped into her little mind when asked what she most often hears me say, she answered "He Loves Me" I've tried to never go a day without telling her that and I think I've done a pretty good job keeping up with that goal. I've never heard those words from my dad. Not ever. I know it would have made a huge difference. More than money, more than applause or recognition for achievement. These last five years have been a grind I cannot fully explain. But never once did Morgan doubt my love for her. I think her life shows it. There is something about your dad telling you he loves you. Even if it's only once or twice.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

All I Ever Wanted Was to be Your Dad...Filling the Hole in my Heart

You were so tiny when you were born. Not even 7 pounds. I'm a big man and that made you seem even tinier in my arms. We wrapped you in your Winnie the Pooh receiving blanket and it was like a little cocoon. When the time came to take you home, the car seat was even too big. We had to buy an optional neck roll for you to help keep your head held up.
I'd never felt anything like what I felt being your dad. I've never loved anyone in my whole life like I did that day...and every day since. Every mundane chore was a treat. Your mom never had to ask me to change your diaper or burp you. When you woke up at night, hungry, I would take you from your mom as soon as she finished nursing and hold you until you burped, and for longer than that even. You fell to sleep in my arms and I was hesitant to put you in your crib...I relished each quiet moment.
Just looking at you as you slept, feeling you near my heart, kissing your tiny forehead a million times in a night. Every kiss...every gentle touch of your tiny hands. Telling you "I Love You" a thousand times an hour. All of those were moments of tenderness I had never known with my own dad and they were serving to heal the hole it left in my heart.
We had to wait about six weeks before taking you out to meet the world. The day came on a Sunday. I took you to church while your mom rested at home. You were dressed like a princess making her debut before society. You never made a sound during the entire service. Pastor Allen came over and held you and his wife Vada did as well. Terry and Mary took their turn. It seems like only yesterday.
I was never more proud than I was that day...except for the next day. And the day after that.
Showing the world what a wonderful, precious, beautiful daughter God had blessed me with, made me feel ten feet tall. I was made for this. This is the role I treasure more than anything.
Because All I Ever Wanted Was To Be Your Dad.